Don't miss this FREE youth conference and slam poetry celebration of identity and voice with special guest artist Amir Sulaiman, renowned Muslim slam poet. Voices for Change is presented by Young Writers Project, Muslim Girls Making Change (MGMC) & our generous sponsors!
Friday, May 11, 4-9 pm
Contois Auditorium, Burlington City Hall, Burlington, VT
Free and open to all (some material might not be suitable for children under 13).
"Amir Sulaiman is going to own the stage during his performance and will leave the crowd in complete awe, just how he left me in awe when I first saw him."
- Lena Ginawi, Muslim Girls Making Change
4 pm: Opening Artists: Muslim Girls Making Change (MGMC)
4:15 - 5:15 pm: Youth Speak Out: Forum on Identity
5:15-6:15 pm: Writing and Performance Workshop with Amir Sulaiman (Check out this workshop on YouTube)
6:15-7 pm Free Buffet Dinner
7-8 pm: Open Mic, several featured artists but open to all
8-9 pm.: Amir Sulaiman Performance
About Amir Sulaiman:
Amir Sulaiman is a poet, recording artist, activist and newly appointed Harvard Fellow, born in Rochester, New York. His poems cross subjects of love, tragedy as well as what it means to reconcile humanity with the unprecedented trials of modernity. He has performed his works across the US as well as many other countries including England, Belgium, Senegal, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Australia, Iran and the Netherlands, and continues to tour world-wide. His recently published book of poetry, "Love, Gnosis & Other Suicide Attempts" met with critical acclaim, in addition to his latest album "The Opening," the third in a unique trilogy project, following "The Meccan Openings" (2011) and "The Medinan Openings" (2012). Amir was first introduced to a National audience in 2005 when he was featured for two seasons on Russell Simmons' groundbreaking series Def Poetry Jam on HBO.
"To write poetry, like sincere poetry, it is like performing heart surgery on yourself without anesthesia...in public...You are peeling back layers. You are dissecting yourself...You do not know what they [the audience] are going to do when you reach into yourself and rip out your organs to be displayed." - Amir Sulaiman
Lena Ginawi, a member of Muslim Girls Making Change (MGMC), wrote to Amir Sulaiman on behalf of MGMC and Young Writers Project, inviting him to Burlington for Voices for Change. She was thrilled when he said YES! Read what Lena says:
"I remember watching Amir Sulaiman's powerful performance at Brave New Voices (in Washington, DC, in the summer of 2016). At the time, I hadn't heard of Amir Sulaiman's work, so I was excited to listen to him speak. He spoke to the crowd with a voice you cannot teach; he spoke with emotion. Every poem Amir recited gave me chills and made me tear up, and I rarely cry in public. As a rising poet at the time, I was so inspired to keep writing after hearing Amir Sulaiman speak his truth with such power and elegance.
"Amir Sulaiman speaks about the most forgotten/hidden element of our society and reminds us that there is more meaning behind everything. He also talks about contemporary social issues that are prevalent in America but never seems to get addressed. For example, he talks about his experience as a Black Muslim in America and carrying the thought of America hating every part of who he is. By speaking about his experience in our society, he is reclaiming his narrative and rejecting the narrative White Americans gave him.
"Although the topics he covers in his poems are very heavy, he always ends off on a bright and spiritual note; making us realize that there is hope and space for us to take action. Often, Vermonters don't think these issues occur here because we're a liberal state, but this isn't true.
"We need to get the conversation going, and we can do that by bringing Amir Sulaiman to Vermont. We're also hoping for Amir to inspire the youth in Vermont to keep writing and share their truth. So we wrote a letter to Amir to convince him to come to Vermont and perform a couple of poems and facilitate a workshop. When writing the letter, I didn't have high hopes because he's a well-known artist and a very busy person. Also, he has performed alongside many famous artists, like Stevie Wonder and Kanye West.
"After a couple of months of waiting, we received an email stating Amir Sulaiman will be coming to Vermont and perform his poems and facilitate a workshop. Personally, I was excited because ever since I saw his performance at Brave New Voice, I started watching videos of his performances online and immediately became a huge fan. We were all very thrilled and excited, but as soon as we received the email confirming his visit, we realized we had to get started. We started meeting up and figuring out the logistics and ways to make this an unforgetful event.
"We're very excited about this event, and we're hopeful that we're going to get a great turn out! I'm excited about the change we are going to make and conversations we're going to start. Also, we're especially excited to get more youth out there by encouraging them to continue to use their voice and take action. Also, Amir Sulaiman is going to own the stage during his performance and will leave the crowd in complete awe, just how he left me in awe when I first saw him."
Voices for Change is made possible with a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art in partnership with The Bay and Paul Foundations, Amy E. Tarrant Foundation, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, VT-NEA, the Peace & Justice Center, Physician’s Computer Co., Seventh Generation, People’s United Bank, Leonardo’s Pizza, Sugarsnap & Courtyard Marriott. Thank you!
Questions? Contact Geoff at Young Writers Project (802) 324-9537, [email protected]; or Susan (802) 324-9538, [email protected]